How to Cut a Half-Blind Lap Dovetail Joint with Hand Tools

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In Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School, my friend Will Myers expertly shows how to cut a very useful, yet simple wood joint: the Half Blind Lap Dovetail! Don’t get scared by the big name…in fact, I generated the name because there was no consistent name given for the joint (can I trademark this???).

moravian-half-blind-lap-dovetail-joint-will-myers

You can buy this Moravian Workbench DVD that I produced here. I would encourage you to watch the above video, but the steps are really quite simple. You first cut a tail with a backsaw:

moravian-half-blind-lap-dovetail-saw

Then you use a chisel to pare and clean up the tail:

moravian-half-blind-lap-dovetail-joint-chisel

Then set the tail right on the board where you’ll be cutting & chopping your mortise (a workbench leg, in this case):

moravian-half-blind-lap-dovetail-scribe

Trace the tail, and use a marking gauge to mark the mortise depth so that the tail board will be a hair above the face after it’s driven in. Then use a backsaw and chisel to remove waste down to a depth line.

moravian-half-blind-lap-dovetail-joint-mortise

Set the tail board on the new mortise and refine the fit with a chisel:

moravian-half-blind-lap-dovetail-joint-fit

Then give some light taps with a mallet to drive the tail board in. Notice how the tail board is sitting a little high? This allows you to handplane the tail board down without hitting the mortise board:

moravian-half-blind-lap-dovetail-joint-final

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2017-04-20T09:36:43+00:00

About the Author:

"I'm wildly passionate about traditional woodworking with hand tools, and want to rekindle this lost art. At WoodAndShop I teach you the skills that I learn, and also share anything fascinating that I discover about traditional woodworking. That includes tours of traditional workshops, beautiful furniture, and my favorite tools and books. I hope you enjoy my videos, photos, and articles. Please feel free to leave constructive comments!"

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3 Comments on "How to Cut a Half-Blind Lap Dovetail Joint with Hand Tools"

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leveloftime
Member

I have learned so much watching your lessons . The next boxes I make will be dovetail .

Ash
Guest

I am a newbie to woodworking. I am so enjoying your blog, it is such an education to learn the traditional ways of joining as opposed to a machine made joint.

Thank you.

I’m in California. For the video it would be the Howarth Bow Saw. T-shirt handplane, black XL.

wpDiscuz

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